Robert Williams Estate Agents, Exeter
Devon home first time buyer will testament

Well, it’s not absolutely necessary but it would be sensible to do so.


If you are relatively young, the whole subject of making a will may sound a bit morbid – not to say premature! Nevertheless, you have just made probably the biggest joint investment in your lives, so you want to be sure that both your interests are equally protected.


For the sake of argument, I’m assuming that you did buy it jointly, and that it is in both your names. However, there are actually two different types of joint ownership – and you need to check.


If you own the property as ‘Joint Tenants’ – in other words, what most people actually think of as joint owners - then each of you should automatically become the sole owner of the entire property if the other dies, irrespective of whether you are married or not.


If however, you own the property as ‘Tenants in Common’, the surviving partner has no automatic right of inheritance and the deceased’s share becomes part of his or her estate to be distributed, in the absence of a will, according to the rules of intestacy - which in practice means that it goes to any living relatives in a strictly laid-down order of precedence, or even reverts to the Crown.


Of course, if you are married or in a civil partnership, then that’s not a problem, since the spouse automatically comes top of the list. But if you’re not, and therefore from a legal standpoint you are only co-habiting, then the only recourse open to the surviving co-owner would be to buy out the deceased’s share.


Either way, to be on the safe side, I would advise making two so-called ‘mirror’ wills, which basically match and reflect each other so that in the event that either party dies, the survivor is equally protected. A bit morbid perhaps, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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